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Belarus’ national handball team plays for 2016 European Championship qualification

Qualification matches kick off with a draw

By Igor Leshin

Belarus’ national handball team plays for 2016 European Championship qualification

Chizhovka-Arena, in Minsk, gathered almost 6,000 fans for national handball team of Belarus’ match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, in first round of second qualifying group, witnessing 25:25 draw. Coach Yuri Shevtsov was obliged to play the team without leader Sergey Rutenko, due to injury, which affected the other players’ confidence. They opened the score, but failed to take the initiative, allowing the Bosnians to pull ahead by four balls. Towards halftime, the Belarusians reduced the gap to 12:13 but their rivals again took the lead by four balls in the second half. A spurt of inspiration took Belarus ahead — 22:19 — but the Bosnians renewed their attack, claiming two goals within two minutes. With the score at 25:25 and just 30 seconds left before the whistle, Sergey Shilovich made a last throw at the net, without success.

Draw between teams at Chizhovka-Arena
Draw between teams at Chizhovka-Arena

Fans are in no doubt that Belarus’ handballers could have taken better advantage of their chances to attack, and must be disappointed at several missed 7m penalty throws.

Three days later, the Belarusian squad faced Lithuanian handballers in Šiauliai, again playing without injured Sergey Rutenko. Although this affected the team’s game, Yuri Shevtsov’s trainees managed to seize victory, with a score of 30:28. Boris Pukhovsky scored the most goals for the Belarusians: eight in all. Sergey Shilovich earned six while Denis Rutenko claimed five.

The next European qualification matches are scheduled for next spring, with the final stage of the 2016 European Men’s Handball Championship to see the two best teams from each of seven groups face each other, alongside the strongest team of those coming third.
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